Story and photos by DAN SMITH
The two major renovations Spectrum Designs' John Garland and his partners are pushing forward in downtown Roanoke are lining up tenants at an impressive rate and one of them could provide alternative space for vendors in the soon-to-close Roanoke City Market Building.
The properties are at 108 Campbell Avenue (a former part of the Leggett Department Store) and 16 West Church Ave. (a former S&W Cafeteria and more recently a gym) and construction work is intense at both sites.
Garland says the property on Campbell Avenue will be a four-story rehab with the facade being re-built to replicate the original 1904 look. "It will look a lot like Agnew Feed & Seed on the Market, which was typical of the day," says Garland. The first floor will house retail in front and office space--with shared amenities--in the rear. The second floor will house what Garland calls "office condos" and the top two floors will feature residential condominiums. "Buyers are lined up for those," Garland says. "We hope to wrap this one up by the end of the year." The building is "a tax credit project," says Garland, referring to its historic value.
At 16 West Church, there has been considerable interest from food vendors, says Garland. "The City helped us" line up a pitch to City Market vendors who will be looking for a home in September when it closes for extensive repairs. A small irony here is that Spectrum Design's very good proposal for the renovation was rejected in favor of an out-of-town bid.
Garland held a meeting with vendors recently and says that since then New York Sub, Tokyo Express and Burger in the Square have expressed an interest in the upgraded facility, but none has signed a contract. Garland says Tokyo Express would not only bring its sushi bar, but has talked of opening a salad and vegetable bar and a take-out deli. Garland says a candy shop and a pizza shop have shown some interest, as has a bead vendor.
Perhaps of the most interest has been probes from the Roanoke Natural Foods Co-operative in Grandin Village, which could put a smaller version of its large store in the 16 West facility, says Garland. "It would be the same offerings in a smaller space," he says.
He has also had questions from the Banaba Shop, he says, but because of space limitations, that is an unlikely match. Banaba sells African items. Zoom, the workout facility owned by Carilion and located on Jefferson Street, is a candidate to take the second floor space, says Garland and the top floor would be home for six apartments.
All of this would work nicely toward creating a more comprehensive community for downtown living, which has grown significantly in recent years in downtown Roanoke.
Two other major projects--one in the Woolworth's building and the other at the Patrick Henry Hotel--would contribute to that quality of life when opened in the next year.
Garland's company has gained a reputation for renovating Roanoke buildings during the past few years and just recently he and his sons Mark and Aaron were honored by the Roanoke Valley Preservation Foundation for a renovation of an apartment building in Raleigh Court.